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Agassi picks nemesis Federer over Sampras
By Clive White
Comparing a champion of one era to a champion of another is an invidious task at the best of times, unless the one doing the comparing has first-hand knowledge of both and is able to articulate that knowledge. That's why Andre Agassi's views on the merits of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer deserve respect.
The career of Grand Slam tennis's elder statesman has straddled that of both players, and when he left the stadium court here at Crandon Park on Friday night after losing to Federer in the semi-finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open he will have recognised the frustration that consumed him. (...)
And according to Agassi, the great Sampras might not have fared any better. After all, he lost to the emerging Federer in their only meeting at Wimbledon in 2001.
"The biggest distinction inside the lines that I feel playing Roger, versus playing Pete, is there were a lot of lapses with Pete," said Agassi. "You could play a bad set and possibly get into a breaker with him. With Roger, there's just no relief. In every department you have to be concentrating and ready to go because he'll take advantage of you on any part of the court.
"That's not to say that Pete's up-side wasn't just as spectacular because when Pete missed a first serve, I still thought to myself, 'God, just get this thing in play so you have a chance'. With Roger, he misses a first serve, I'm thinking, 'Okay, here we go'. I think Roger has a better return than Pete. I think Pete volleys better. I think Roger moves better, is better from the baseline. But Pete's serve was probably better … they pose different problems entirely, but Roger makes you do it from start to finish, and Pete made you do something incredibly special at a lot of given times." (...)